Two new engines highlight the changes for 2000 on the A6, Audi's midsize sedan. The A6 fits between Audi's A4 and A8 models in size and price. One of this year's new engines, a 4.2-liter V-8, elevates the A6 into the same performance league as V-8 versions of the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Jaguar XJ sedan.
The A6 sedan is available with front-wheel drive or Audi's permanently engaged Quattro all-wheel drive. Quattro models account for about 80 percent of Audi's U.S. sales. The A6 also comes as a station wagon, the Avant.
The A6 was redesigned for the 1998 model year to a smooth, flowing shape, but the new V-8 engine resulted in several design revisions for this year. New front fenders and a longer hood extend the nose to accommodate the V-8. The front also has a deeper grille and larger headlamps. The front track the width between the wheels is wider by 1.5 inches and the wheel arches are bigger to fit the V-8 model's standard 16-inch wheels and optional 17-inch wheels.
The elegant, luxuriously trimmed interior provides ample room for five adults, and all are treated to comfortable seats. Wood trim on the doors, center console and dashboard add touches of warmth. The dashboard has attractive white-on-black gauges, but Audi uses red instrument lighting that some find too harsh.
Audi says the A6's trunk holds 15.4 cubic feet of cargo, which is unexceptional, but it looks much larger than that. The cargo floor is wide and goes well forward, and the trunk opening is large enough to easily load bulky items. The rear seatback folds for additional space.
One of the A6's coolest features is the Warm Weather Package, which includes a solar sunroof that activates interior fans when the car is parked in the sun.
Under the Hood
Audi uses engine size to designate models. The A6 2.8 uses a 2.8-liter V-6 with 200 horsepower. The A6 2.7 T uses a new 2.7-liter V-6 with dual turbochargers and 250 horsepower, and the A6 4.2 has a 4.2-liter V-8 with 300 horsepower, the same engine used in the A8 sedan.
Safety features are abundant. Besides the required front airbags, all models have side-impact airbags for the front seats. Side-impact airbags for the rear seats are optional. Inflatable side curtains that protect the heads and upper bodies of all outboard passengers are standard on the A6 4.2 and optional on the others. Anti-lock brakes are standard.
Audi suffered greatly from unfounded allegations of unintended acceleration during the late 1980s, but the German brand has bounced back by offering well-made, stylish cars that are loaded with technology and safety features. Audi provides free scheduled maintenance for three years/50,000 miles and a 12-year warranty against corrosion.
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